Oklahoma Health Department Sued Over Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Two separate lawsuits have been filed in response to restrictions tacked onto Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law by government regulators. Voters passed State Question 788 (SQ 788) by a margin of 57-43 percent in a June 6 election. SQ 788 legalized the medicinal use of cannabis and created a framework for a regulated supply chain.

Earlier this week, the State Department of Health released proposed rules to govern the program.  But then the Oklahoma State Board of Health voted to add restrictions into the rules, including a provision banning the sale of smokable forms of cannabis in dispensaries. Another requires medical marijuana dispensaries to have a pharmacist onsite.

Activists Fight Back

In a release, the team said the board’s actions do not comply with SQ 788.

“The lawsuit filed today is our endeavor to undo the wrongful acts of the Oklahoma Department of Health in adopting amendments to the regulations implementing State Initiative 788. It’s our hope that this lawsuit will immediately solve the regulations and allow Oklahoma citizens to exercise their rights to handle their own health care,” they said, according to local media.

The lawsuit states that the board members met behind closed doors before their public meeting to discuss potential amendments to the proposed rules. The legal action alleges that the meeting was in violation of laws requiring transparency in government.

“Their informal gatherings prior to the regular meeting constitute a meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act given that their talks were about actions to be taken by the Board during the July 10, 2018 full meeting,” the lawsuit claims.

Patients and Providers Additionally Sue

A group of eight potential medical marijuana patients and caregivers also filed suit, in Cleveland County. Their lawsuit claims the Board of Health exceeded its authority and that the regulations are “arbitrary and capricious. ”

After voters passed SQ 788, some lawmakers proposed a special legislative session to make regulations. Gov. Fallin refused that proposal citing the cost involved, and instead tasked with the health board with the job. Jed Green of cannabis trade group New Health Solutions Oklahoma said lawsuit will be even more expensive.

“The reality here is that failure of leadership will now cost our state more than the restricted special session required to put patients before profit,” Green said.

Can Lawsuits Delay Access?

Shawn Jenkins of the Yes on 788 political action committee stated he fears lawsuit could delay the initiative’s execution.

“We’re obviously very concerned with anything that would compromise the rollout of 788 and getting patients what they need,” Jenkins said.

“We don’t need to see people suffer that shouldn’t be suffering, particularly at the hands of governmental associations and trade groups,” he added.

More Initiatives to Come?

Whatever the outcome of the suits over SQ 788, Oklahoma voters may have more choices to make about cannabis. Green the Vote is currently circulating petitions for two more initiatives to codify medical marijuana and the use of cannabis for adults at the nation ’s constitution.

Published at Fri, 13 Jul 2018 21:50:49 +0000

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